I was one of many lucky individuals to sign up for Sony’s mailing list- er, excuse me, sign up for a chance to get sent a God of War: Chains of Mount Olympus PSP demo in the mail, and waddaya know, I did last week. It came in a nice little cardboard pack with an exclusive God of War Omega symbol necklace that you wouldn’t catch me wearing dead, unless I was murdered by my mortal enemy.
The game is absolutely beautiful. No one’s been able to call the PSP a slouch in the graphics department, but here it truly shows what I can do. In fact, it even looks better than God of War 2 did on the PS2. Of course, I don’t have an HDTV to hook it up to, so it could definitely be just the improved screen quality of the PSP, but man does it look crisp and smooth here.
The game is actually a prequel this time around. In the first game, it was revealed that lead bad-ass Kratos was tricked into killing his wife and daughter and forced to work for the Gods of Olympus to pay off his debt. He was already a well-known guy by the time you started playing him- here, it shows what he did to earn all that notoriety.
The game controls pretty much exactly as you’d expect, with the obvious concessions made due to the lack of an extra analog stick and two shoulder buttons. Now instead of using the right analog to dodge you have to press both L + R buttons and push different directions, and it works decently. Some buttons are assigned double and triple duties but nothing seems to interfere with the others, and it all is very responsive.
The featured level, Attica, is somewhat reminiscent of the first level of God of War 2. In it, you’re fighting amidst a massive battle between the Persians and Spartans, with giant beasts running amok. Just the background action of fireballs being hurled at the city will bring a smile to your face, as you realize that this is a God of War game in every way, shape and form.
There’s a great moment here where a monster has an entrance reminiscent of one of those great old shootemups. You know the ones I’m talking about, where a giant boss comes onto screen, only to be completely friggin’ OBLITERATED by the enourmous real boss. The giant this time is an oversized basilisk, and you’ll have fun beating him using some good ol’ fashioned button mashing and well-timed button presses.
You also fight a Persian king who’s got some crazy genie fire magic with him, and when you beat him you’ll get it for yourself.
The developers have promised new combat moves, and the same upgrade system looks to be in place, although it wasn’t available in the demo. The demo did have a very cool little developer’s commentary of the included level, and did a nice job showing how they attempted (and succeded) to do the game right for a portable system.
It’s no surprise that the game controls and looks beautifully, since it’s from the same team (Ready at Dawn Studios) that previously made Daxter, one of the best games on the PSP. Above and below you’ve got a couple of newly released screens from the ‘Helios Temple’ level.
There’s no doubt in my mind- they pulled this one off completely. Expect this to be the PSP’s best seller to date when it hits stores March 4th, if it makes it out on time. Pre-order it through CHUD and Amazon right here.